Natural Hazards

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 361–379

GIS and Volcanic Risk Management


  • M. T. Pareschi
  • L. Cavarra
  • M. Favalli
  • F. Giannini
  • A. Meriggi

DOI: 10.1023/A:1008016304797

Cite this article as:
Pareschi, M.T., Cavarra, L., Favalli, M. et al. Natural Hazards (2000) 21: 361. doi:10.1023/A:1008016304797


Volcanic catastrophes constitute a majorproblem in many developing and developed countries. Inrecent years population growth and the expansion ofsettlements and basic supply lines (e.g., water, gas,etc.) have greatly increased the impact of volcanicdisasters. Correct land-use planning is fundamental inminimising both loss of life and damage to property.In this contribution Geographical Information Systems(GIS), linked with remote sensing technology andtelecommunications/warning systems, have emerged asone of the most promising tools to support thedecision-making process. Some GIS are presented fortwo volcanic areas in Italy, Mt. Etna and Vesuvius.GIS role in risk management is then discussed, keepingin mind the different volcanic scenarios of effusiveand explosive phenomena. Mt. Etna system covers alarge area (more than 1,000 km2) potentiallyaffected by effusive phenomena (lava flows) whichcause damage to both houses and properties in general.No risk to life is expected. The time-scales of lavaflows allow, at least in principle, modification ofthe lava path by the building of artificial barriers.Vesuvius shows typically an explosive behaviour. Inthe case of a medium size explosive eruption, 600,000people would potentially have to be evacuated from anarea of about 200 km2 around the Volcano, sincethey are exposed to ruinous, very fast phenomena likepyroclastic surges and flows, lahars, ash fallout,etc. Ash fallout and floods/lahars are also expectedin distal areas, between Vesuvius and Avellino,downwind of the volcano. GIS include digital elevationmodels, satellite images, volcanic hazard maps andvector data on natural and artificial features (energysupply lines, strategic buildings, roads, railways,etc.). The nature and the level of detail in the twodata bases are different, on the basis of thedifferent expected volcanic phenomena. The GIS havebeen planned: (a) for volcanic risk mitigation (hazard,value, vulnerability and risk map assessing), (b) toprovide suitable tools during an impending crisis, (c)to provide a basis for emergency plans.

volcanic risk assessmentGISdigital cartographyvolcanic hazardEtna

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000